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Wang Yiwei: The art of dealing with Trump


Source:    Published: 2016-12-12


Since America`s 1979 pledge of support for a one-China policy, shifting formal diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, Washington has not made any official contact with Taiwan`s government.

On December 2, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump called Taiwan`s leader Tsai Ing-wen, breaking four decades of protocol.

According to an article on, Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, revealed that the Chinese government called the U.S. ambassador to China on December 3 to protest against Trump`s contact with the Taiwan`s leader.

This inevitably led to Trump defending his actions on Twitter, further escalating already high tensions.

Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into…

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

their country (the U.S. doesn`t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don`t think so!

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal both reported that Trump`s aides planned the telephone call with Tsai weeks ago.

Jeffrey Bader, who served as Barack Obama`s lead adviser on China from 2009 to 2011, asserted that the call highlights the glaring question marks surrounding Trump`s foreign policy skills, adding that he "appears to have little respect" for any damage to America`s security interests or the long-practiced protocol of Sino-U.S. relations.

"(The phone call) gives us reason to be worried about U.S.-China relations going forward," said Wang Dong, a political science professor at Peking University. "There (has) been too much wishful thinking and overly optimistic expectations about Donald Trump and China and I think now, people have to come back to reality."

In light of concerns surrounding Trump`s unpredictable actions and his intended policy measures, should he be taken seriously? How should the world, and especially China, react to Trump?

Global Times reporter Liu Jianxi spoke with three Chinese policy experts regarding the immediate future of Sino-US Relations.

Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China maintains that "the Chinese government is still pursuing a watch-and-wait policy, and cautiously expects a smooth development of the China-U.S. relationship in Trump`s era. China is unlikely to take countermeasures against Trump`s provocations at the current stage, but obviously will become more concerned and alert to Trump`s future Beijing policy."

According to Zhu Feng, director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies at Nanjing University, "Accusing China of currency manipulation and military expansion in the South China Sea on Twitter, Trump is attempting to take preemptive measures in dealing with China. However, it should be noted that Trump has not yet officially taken office, and his actions, though offensive, will exert no effect on the international relationship."

Zhu went on to say, "Trump is known for his unpredictability, and his being elected will add more uncertainties to the future China-U.S. relationship. The Chinese side should make full preparations for Trump`s foreign policies after he takes office. Some observers believe that China should set rules for Trump, and deter him from offensive actions in an appropriate manner. This is unrealistic. The more rules we set for him, the more unruly he becomes. Trump focuses on style over substance, and we don`t need to play his games."

Wang Yiwei, a senior fellow of International Relations at Renmin University of China argued, "We should take Trump`s Twitter broadside as a lesson. If not informed of the serious consequences of his irresponsible words and deeds, Trump will continue to relentlessly overstep boundaries. We should clarify our bottom line, warn and deter Trump in a proper way, and make it clear that there will be consequences for his actions. The Chinese government should send signals, publicly or privately, to Trump that he will pay for his mistakes if he challenges China`s national interests."

Unfortunately, as China`s policy experts have begun to steadily caution, Trump will soon no longer have the luxury of time or any remaining benefit of doubt. In January, he will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States and must be held accountable for every action and indeed every tweet.

Once sworn in, Trump will exist outside the realm of political philosophy or theory and exist in a stark and increasingly complex political reality where there are serious and long-lasting repercussions. There won`t be any more "watch-and-wait," and any games he plays will have serious implications on how policymakers and global players clarify the bottom line.

Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmmin University of China.

Key Words: China   US   Trump   Wang Yiwei  

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